Almost 100 years after the archaic dagger was found in the tomb of King Tutankhamun, the mystery behind its origins has finally been solved. A team of researchers at the Chiba Institute of Technology performed several analyses, including chemical analysis, to fully know about how the dagger was forged.
In 2016, a team of archaeologists from the Pierre and Marie Curie University, Paris, led by author Albert Jambon, found that the dagger was, in fact, crafted from iron that came from outer space. Researchers believe that iron was brought to Earth by meteorites. Now, the recent study, published in Meteoritics and Planetary Science, suggests that the iron meteorite was a specific kind called Octahedrite.
Octahedrite is the largest known group of iron meteorites. In addition, the analysis also provided evidence regarding the distribution of nickel on the surface of the dagger. Furthermore, the study confirmed that the dagger’s surface fostered a crystal pattern called the Widmanstatten pattern, or Thomson structures, which is another characteristic of iron meteorites. Moreover, the chemical analysis also confirmed that the iron which was carved into a dagger was heated up to 800 degrees Celsius.
This information about the heating temperatures was baffling as during the bronze age when people had not learned how to smelt iron, and hence, iron was considered a decorative item.
“At that time in Egypt, iron was considered an element that on rare occasions fell from the skies and was about 80 times more valuable than gold. Tutankhamun likely inherited the iron dagger from his grandfather, and it was placed in his grave when he died at a young age,” said Takafumi Matsui, lead author of the study, as reported by The Asahi Shimbun.
The study also confirmed, after studying the clay tablets found during the excavation near the river Nile, that the dagger was actually a gift to Amenhotep, Tutankhamun’s grandfather. The gift was presented to Amenhotep by the king of Mitanni, which suggests that the meteorite must have fallen near lands that are now in Syria.